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Title: Child second language acquisition of tense-aspect morphology : a bi-directional study of English and Italian
Author: Rocca, Sonia
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2003
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The present thesis reports on the acquisition of tense-aspect morphology in three L1 Italian children learning L2 English and three L1 English children learning L2 Italian. The children, aged between seven and nine years, were observed in their home environment for a period of six months at approximately two-week intervals. The tense-aspects forms considered are the simple past and the progressive for English, the passato prossimo (i.e. present perfect) and the imperfetto (i.e. imperfect) for Italian. A typological analysis of these forms indicates that their interaction with lexical aspectual classes creates prototypical links. Thus, the simple past and the passato prossimo are prototypically linked to telic predicates, the progressive is prototypically linked to activities and imperfetto to statives. These prototypical links are substantiated acquisitionally by L1 and L2 studies. They are also confirmed by findings from the present study, indicating that these prototypical links are transferable. The typological similarity between the progressive and the imperfetto, both belonging to the imperfective area, results in a bi-directional effect of transfer. The progressive is overextended to states because the learner transfers the prototypical link imperfetto-states; similarly, the imperfetto is underextended to states because the learner transfers the prototypical linked progressive-activities, resulting in an underproduction of the imperfetto with states. However, for language transfer to occur, the learner has to reach the necessary developmental stage. That is to say, these patterns of overextension and underextension are produced after the relevant prototypical links have been acquired. Thus, before being overgeneralized to states, the progressive first marks activities. Similarly, the imperfetto first appears with states, before being avoided with them. Language transfer can also explain another pattern of overextension and underextension in the interlanguage of L2 Italian children: the overextension of the perfective auxiliary avere and the consequent underextension of the other perfective auxiliary.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available